Rejection


I was cleaning out files a couple of weeks ago when I found a stack of rejections. I’m not sure why I was saving them. Maybe it was a testament to having tried to market my project, or maybe it was to show all those people when the novel sold a million copies, just how good it was. Probably it was because I hate to throw anything away. If you take a look at my office, that’s the most likely reason.

Whatever the reason, I found I didn’t need them any more (if I ever did) and threw them away. It’s time to start a new collection. Time to send out all those query letters on my latest project. Time for more rejections? Of course, it’s part of the publishing game.

The rejections made up quite a collection. Some were formal form letters, saying “we have reviewed your submission and feel it isn’t quite right for our list. Best of luck on finding a home for your novel.” One was a crude scrawl across my query letter saying “Not for me.” Most were nicely written and contained comments meant to be encouraging, but still a rejection. The answer was “NO.”

One was a form letter with a cryptic, hand written note across the top. The note was probably written by a secretary/reader and said “This manuscript is not novel length.” I can’t think of a note that would be less informative than this one. All right, here we have one example of what is not novel length. It was rather like playing the childhood game “Hot and Cold” with only “cold” for a clue. How many submissions would we have to make to determine what is an acceptable length?

Not that it mattered. The novel was short (although I have seen a few books of about 42,000 to 48,000 words that had “A Novel” printed on the cover) and had a number of problems. I still have a copy of it on my computer hard drive (v10.1). Who knows? I may one day decide to go back to it, though I doubt it. It was a good learning experience.

Rejection affects most writers, including J. K. Rowling (something like 26 rejections), Stephanie Meyer, and Audrey Niffenegger. Audrey had enough rejections with her first novel that she decided to go with a small, independent publisher which had trouble keeping up with the millions of copies they eventually published.

So, hang in there and keep collecting those rejections and if you get some really unusual ones, please save them. You never know when you might have to line a bird or hamster cage.

The question for this post is: What is your favorite rejection letter?

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2 Responses to “Rejection”


  1. 1 vvdenman January 30, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Most of my rejections have been in the form of a time-out. “If you haven’t heard something from us in so many months, then . . .” And the so many months have come and gone. The only rejection reply I have received simply said she would “have to pass.” Hmm.

    I’m curious about the other comments you’ll receive. I’ll be watching my inbox for the updates. Thanks.

    • 2 halcclark February 1, 2010 at 7:53 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t think of that one, but it’s probably the worst. It’s sorta like being put on hold. “Your call is very important to us, but not important enough to answer the phone.” How long do you wait?


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